The apparent increase in non-governmental engagement in policy and planning processes appears to reflect a combination of factors, including deeper appreciation of the importance of those processes, growing awareness of the significance of strengthening community participation, and increasing emphasis on empowerment as a development goal. Certainly there are many diverse initiatives, within Eastern Africa as well as in other developing regions, to influence government processes, yet the impact of these initiatives is often difficult to determine.
This is not necessarily an indictment of those initiatives, since there are tremendous challenges in tracing real impact, on the environment or on economic development, back to individual contributions to decision-making. Actors that engage in policy dialogue or advocacy face a continual struggle to justify their actions to results-oriented donors, and to attribute impacts and outcomes to specific actions.
A number of the case studies that are presented in this book have been contributed from project activities implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN , in Eastern Africa. It is incumbent upon actors engaging in policy dialogue to clarify the steps they are taking in order to know where they fit into the causal chain that links knowledge and action. This will improve accountability and learning and enable a deeper reflection on the many assumptions that are made.
Policy dialogue is carried out to contribute to sustainable development, and improved livelihoods and biodiversity conservation in the long-term. Part of the goal may also be to empower people through engaging in the process, although empowerment is itself both of intrinsic and instrumental value: both a means to, and a component of, sustainable livelihoods. To contribute to this goal, nongovernmental actors often focus on raising awareness in government and on increasing and improving the engagement of communities in policy-making processes.
However, there is a gulf between knowledge and participation and the ultimate goal, and the impact pathway needs to be carefully considered, and influence may need to be brought to bear at a number of levels. Within the broad theory of change that underpins much policy work, whether implicitly or tacitly, is the assumption that improved participation and improved knowledge and awareness amongst different stakeholders will lead to the creation of new policies, the adjustment of existing policies, and the implementation of policies. Such outcomes are not guaranteed, but it is within the power of nongovernmental agencies to influence at this higher level: to participate in policy formulation processes, to provide feedback on the shortcomings of policy, or to support government to implement policies.
A further assumption is made, that with a conducive policy environment, the management of natural resources will improve, investments will be greater and more sustainable, and disincentives will be relaxed. The relationship between policy and these higher level impacts is complex, since multiple policies and processes may come to bear on any particular outcome. An individual institution may have limited influence at this level, but can nevertheless monitor linkages between policy change and tangible outcomes at this level.
Monitoring and research can also be used to trace the causal link between policy outcomes and the ultimate environment and development goals. It may in fact be very helpful to accept that policy is an ill-defined and chaotic process and to take a much more sophisticated approach to influencing it: to influencing decision-making and negotiations within institutions. Amongst the examples that are presented in this book are a variety of different approaches to influencing policy and practice. There are examples of communities persuading local government to allocate resources money and land for environmental and sustainable development activities.
There are examples of communities becoming empowered through engagement in policy dialogue. Other examples document the development of scientific and economic arguments, combined with community testimony and wielded by different actors in dialogue with decision-makers in government planning departments. There are examples of engaging with elected and un-elected representatives, such as councillors and parliamentarians. The Theory of Change that has been outlined in this book and that has informed much of the work presented here illustrates one of the critical challenges to effectively influencing policy: that of knowing what impact your contribution makes.
Monitoring the effectiveness of policy influence is critical both for accountability, for example, to allies or to a donor, but also to ensure that lessons are learned and that influence can be steadily improved. However, it is unlikely that one intervention will work alone to influence policy, which leads to a challenge of attributing a particular outcome to a particular intervention.
Furthermore, since changing policy is usually a means to an end with a long impact pathway, it is even more challenging to determine the role that policy influence has in terms of real impact: for example, on lives or on the environment.
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Many agencies work at several levels in the results chain, for example, starting by improving practice to have a direct impact on people and the environment, and then gathering lessons to feed into policy to ensure that local lessons are a sustained and b scaled up. Measuring the impact of their efforts to influence policy would therefore require monitoring how well their first intervention is sustained, over a significant period of time, and also monitoring the degree of scale-up nation-wide. Such levels of monitoring are unrealistic for most project-based interventions.
Furthermore, even if impacts could be measured, there could still be doubts as to the real causal factors, since many other interventions could be influencing adoption of a particular practice on the ground. Clearly many assumptions are made when influencing policy and it is important to be realistic and transparent about these assumptions, but also to learn as much as possible about the effectiveness of interventions.
It is often assumed, for example, that greater participation of decision-makers in dialogue with other stakeholders will lead to more sensitive and appropriate policies. It is also often assumed that if sound science is used to identify policy options, policies will be improved. These assumptions, as the chapters in this book illustrate, do not always hold true, since there are many competing interests and many different decision-makers and policy influencers.
The Theory of Change is helpful in this regard, since it allows actors to clarify how their work contributes to their overall goal and to assess the effectiveness of their influence. To overcome the challenges of monitoring and attributing impact, it can be beneficial to examine the outcomes: that is, consequences of the intervention that are expected to contribute towards the ultimate impact. The Outcome Mapping approach can be used to visualize the desired future situation — the improved livelihoods and environment — and then to identify the steps towards that future scenario to which a given intervention can contribute.
Central to this approach is the understanding that a single intervention cannot instigate the desired changes in isolation, but can contribute to changes in attitude and behaviour among other actors who in turn can bring about the desired change. The Outcome Mapping approach assumes that these actors have more control over the desired changes that a programme aims to bring about, while the programme itself plays a facilitating role, for example introducing new ideas, opportunities and resources. Outcome Mapping enables a programme to focus on where it makes its contribution to outcomes, and makes certain assumptions about these outcomes in turn contributing to the desired results or impacts.
It is particularly appropriate in programmes that seek to empower communities, devolve power and contribute to sustainable changes in the future Earl et al.
The examples presented in this book illustrate a variety of ways that diverse actors have engaged in policy processes. Some of these are direct allies, while others may be targets of advocacy or information. Outcome Mapping was therefore used as a monitoring approach for many of the interventions presented here, to track interventions that explicitly harness the skills and credentials of diverse actors in alliances. The examples that are documented in this book come from a wide range of stakeholders, particularly in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Examples are taken from fishing communities on the coast of Tanzania, pastoral communities in Northern Kenya, and farmers in Uganda, as well as community managers of forest and water resources throughout Eastern Africa. They include the experiences of government technocrats, members of parliament and representatives from inter-governmental institutions. The project that led to the production of this book focused on making the linkages between policy and practice, and the chapters highlight a variety of ways in which the inter-linkages have been tested.
To an extent, this book also blurs the distinction between policy and practice, focusing on government and community decision-making with different degrees of formality. What some people refer to as policy may sometimes simply be the way things are done, and often nothing is written down or formalized until it becomes evident that the way things are done is inadequate or needs regulation.
Once a policy is written down, its impact may be negligible, while in some instances, policy is written down after a practice has become the norm.
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This book is intended to contribute to the understanding of these complex decision-making processes and some of the variety of ways that decision-making can be influenced by different actors. By working in partnership, it is possible to mobilize influence at different levels by different stakeholders using different approaches.
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This clearly highlights the importance of forming alliances and networks to strengthen influence. Chapter 2 presents experiences from Eastern Africa in supporting communities to influence government decision-making, particularly at the local level.
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It illustrates how communities can use their experiences to assist government to implement its policies and how communities can mobilize government support for their own priorities. Chapter 3 builds on this by illustrating the importance of networking as a practical tool for enhancing community empowerment. The chapter provides examples of bringing community experiences and knowledge into government decision-making at local and also at higher levels. Chapter 4 moves beyond community members to discuss the role that leaders and representatives can play in bringing community expertise and opinions into policy dialogue.
The chapter examines official government structures for representation as well as the role of traditional leadership, and explores how effectively community voices are expressed through their different representatives. The chapter examines efforts that have been made to influence this influential group, and also examines their influence at different stages in the policy process.
Chapters 4 and 5 therefore present experience of working with two central parties in policy-making: the legislature and the executive. Both are important to understand if an actor wants to influence policy, but neither is likely to hold all the answers. Chapter 6 considers the role of Intergovernmental Bodies IGBs in influencing policy and shaping policy agendas.
Eastern African States are members of numerous IGBs and there are specific roles these institutions may play in shaping national policy. The influence of these institutions may be limited, or confined to certain areas, but a number of experiences are presented of collaborating with IGBs to promote dialogue on certain areas of concern. Chapter 7 outlines the role of science in influencing policy, and presents examples of where science has been influential.
It also examines the theory of science—policy interaction, which highlights some of the inconsistencies that arise between the theory and the practice.
Several chapters in this book highlight the political nature of decision-making and the disregard that can be shown towards scientific insights. Chapter 7 reminds us of the importance of ensuring that science continues to be used to avoid policy and investment failures. Chapter 8 makes a powerful argument for greatly improving the capacity to communicate effectively. In contrast to Chapter 7 , Chapter 8 maintains that it is not what you say so much as how you say it that is taken most seriously.
The final chapter of this book attempts to draw an overarching analysis of these chapters and present a framework for more effective planning for policy engagement.
Chapter 9 presents a framework for more strategic dialogue with government at different levels to apply influence at the right place and time, and with the right actors. Understanding the unique policy and political environment in each country is a vital starting point, as is identifying the right allies. Working with the right allies boosts the opportunity for enabling and empowering a wider range of stakeholders, including those whose role is to maintain pressure and influence on both current and future governments.
In many developing countries, the role of local communities in using knowledge both indigenous and others to influence government has been largely ignored. This is caused by a variety of factors including deeply engrained policy positions that eschew the role of communities Kigenyi et al. This has started a long-standing public policy debate and academic discourse on the role of community knowledge in mobilizing government and influencing decision-making processes. Consequently, we have witnessed that community knowledge is gradually gaining recognition and is beginning to influence decision-making, particularly in the field of natural resource management.
To do so, however, it is argued that people need to be fully aware of what is at stake and what they stand to benefit from their involvement. Many people in developing countries rely heavily on their immediate environment and natural resources for their livelihoods. However, despite the fact that they are the most exposed to environmental risks and degradation, they are usually the least represented in environmental decision-making.
Good natural resource management depends on participatory, transparent, open and accountable governance that ensures the effective participation of the public in the various stages in the decision-making processes Nyangabyaki, Effective participation should be interactive, and appreciated as a right, with local people participating in joint analysis, development of action plans and the formation, or strengthening, of local institutions Pretty, Effective access to relevant information is a key step in empowering citizens to exercise a degree of control over resources and institutions this point is taken up in Chapter 3 in this volume.
Rural communities have a rich knowledge about their natural resources and about how to manage them effectively, and with appropriate support they can become important agents of change Wyckoff-Baird et al.
When communities are empowered, they can be more capable of mobilizing support both from government, development partners and other actors. This increases their capacity to participate in decision-making processes so that their views are integrated into the government policies and programmes. In Eastern Africa, decentralization is one of the measures that governments have put in place to bring services nearer to the people, giving them an opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes at the different levels. With the existence of the local government structures, even non-governmental organizations have found avenues to work closely with communities and empower them to influence policies at the lowest levels.
This is based on the realization that communities are too detached from the central governments and it requires a long process to build their capacity to the point where they are able to influence policies at a national level. This chapter demonstrates the relevance of community power in mobilizing government support and illustrates how this power can be harnessed. The chapter draws on case studies from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to demonstrate what it takes for communities to be real drivers of change, what processes are important to mobilize the community power, the success factors, key challenges and specific recommendations.
The case studies provide evidence of how policy and legal recognition of community institutions, knowledge and skills can empower communities and enable them to derive benefits from conservation and thereby develop more sustainable livelihoods. Communities 2 may be viewed as systems composed of individual members and sectors that have a variety of distinct characteristics and interrelationships. These sectors are populated by groups of individuals who represent specialized functions, activities, or interests within the system Thompson and Kinne, Since the beginning of history, human beings have formed communities that share cultural practices reflecting their collective learning: from a tribe around a cave fire, to a medieval guild, to a group of nurses in a ward, to a street gang, to a community of engineers interested in brake design.
It is at the very core of what makes us human beings capable of meaningful knowing Wenger and Snyder, Community knowledge can be better understood from the basis of shared identity and practices. It is therefore easier to build a knowledge-sharing system based on community life that stays within the community than one that crosses distinct boundaries. Moreover, community membership is the basis for trust, and effective knowledge sharing depends on trusted information.